Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

Green Building/Sustainable Building



Green building and sustainable building both refer to the design and construction of buildings that have a minimal impact on the environment. Green building encompasses all phases of design, materials selection, and construction, including life-cycle analysis and energy efficiency.

This reference guide includes links to both popular materials and more technical information. It is not an exhaustive list and it includes information that will help you continue research at your local library.

[Books] [Periodicals] [Directories] [Associations & Organizations] [Conferences] [Newsgroups and E-mail Lists] [Community Initiatives] [Web Sites]


The Library of Congress Subject Headings do not use the terms Green Building or Sustainable Building. The heading Green Products is a good, broad term, but it also encompasses household products like cleaners. Narrower terms to locate green construction resources include:

For materials on healthy houses, use the following:

To locate energy efficiency resources, use the following:

For materials dealing with building design, use:

Helpful Dewey Decimal classification numbers include:

Alternative Construction Systems: Contemporary Natural Building Methods edited by Lynne Elizabeth and Cassandra Adams (New York, NY : John Wiley & Sons, 2000. ISBN: 0-471-24951-3).
This book examines a broad range of traditional and modern natural construction methods, including straw-bale, light-clay, cob, adobe, rammed earth and pise, earthbag, earth-sheltered, bamboo, and hybrid systems. It also covers key ecological design principles, as well as current engineering and building code requirements.

The Art of Natural Building: Design, Construction, Technology by Joseph F. Kennedy (Kingston, NM : NetWorks Productions, 1999 -- online at
Describes the process of natural building.

BEES 2.0: Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability, Technical Manual and User Guide (Washington, DC: National Institute for Standards and Technology, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program, 2001 -- online at [NISTIR 6520].
BEES measures the environmental performance of building products by using the environmental life-cycle assessment approach specified in ISO 14000 standards.

Building Green in a Black and White World: Selling the Homes Your Customers Want by David Ritchey Johnston (Washington, DC : Home Builder Press, 2000. ISBN: 0-86718-507-4)
Aimed at contractors who would like to develop a "green building" image.

Energy Star Building Manual (Washington, DC : U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star Program, 2001 -- online at
Focuses on energy efficiency in commercial buildings.

Environmental Resource Guide by the American Institute of Architects (New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1996 with updates in 1997 and 1998) [720.41 E61].
Loose-leaf guide developed by the American Institute of Architects. Gives extensive environmental information on many types of building products.

Green Building: A Primer for Builders, Consumers, and Realtors (5th ed.) (Edgewater, MD: Building Environmental Science and Technology (B.E.S.T.), 2000 -- online at
A good overview of green building basics.

Green Building Handbook: A Companion Guide to Building Products & Their Impact on the Environment by Tom Woolley and Sam Kimmins (New York, NY : Routledge, 2000. ISBN: 0-419-25380-7)
A handbook that provides a detailed reference for environmentally concerned purchasers of building products. Includes an overview and introduction which discusses issues in green building. Other topics include fencing products, electrical wiring, glazing products, adhesives, and ventilation.

Green Building Resource Guide by Daianna Rincones (Chicago, IL : U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5, 2000) [720.1 R579g]
Short guide to green building products.

Green Building Resource Guide by John Hermannsson (Newtown, CT: Taunton Press, 1997. ISBN: 1-56158-219-0)
Written by an architect, this guide provides builders, architects, and homeowners with the information they need to make informed decisions about environmentally-friendly design and construction. There is a companion web site at

Green Building Materials: A Guide to Product Selection & Specification by Dru Meadows and Ross Spiegel (New York, NY : John Wiley & Sons, 1999. ISBN: 0-471-29133-1)
Guide to today's wide range of green building materials--what they are, where to find them, and how to use them effectively. Offers in-depth practical information on the product selection, product specification, and construction process.

Building Greener, Building Better: The Quiet Revolution (Washington, DC : National Association of Home Builders, 2002? -- online at
An overview of some of the many methods of building green homes. A wide variety of residential construction techniques are discussed through case studies and builder interviews. Provides an overview of smart growth and community building, site design, use of infill and brownfields, stormwater controls and design, and energy efficiency.

LEED Green Building Rating System Version 2.0: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Washington, DC : U.S. Green Building Council, 2000 -- online at [690 L484]
A self-assessing system designed for rating the environmental performance of new and existing commercial, institutional, and high-rise residential buildings.

Life Cycle Assessment Tools to Measure Environmental Impacts: Assessing Their Applicability to the Home Building Industry: Final Report (Washington, DC : U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research, 2001 -- online at
Presents a critique of life cycle assessment tools and offers suggestions for how they could be more useful.

Prescriptions for a Healthy House: A Practical Guide for Architects, Builders, and Homeowners by Paula Baker-Laporte, John Banta, and Erica Elliott (North Kingston, RI : New Society Publishers, 2001. ISBN: 0-86571-434-7)
A guide for homeowners, architects, and builders that takes the mystery out of healthy house building by walking the reader through the construction process. It explains where and why standard building practices are not healthful, what to do differently, and how to obtain alternative materials and expertise. Shows how to design interior and exterior space, and select construction materials that enhance and promote physical well-being.

Residential Construction Contractor's Guide (Bozeman, MT : Montana Pollution Prevention Program, 1998 -- online at
Developed by the Montana Pollution Prevention Program to provide residential construction contractors and designers with practical ideas on how to reduce or eliminate waste. The steps outlined in this guide, referred to as "Best Pollution Prevention Practices," follow environmental management priorities set by the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990.

Sustainable Architecture Compendia (Ann Arbor, MI : National Pollution Prevention Center for Higher Education, 1998 -- online at [720.4 7011 K49i, et al]
Classroom exercises, reading lists, syllabi, etc. for all aspects of sustainable architecture including sustainable design, sustainable building materials, and recycling and reuse.

Sustainable Building Technical Manual: Green Building Design, Construction, and Operations (Washington, DC : Public Technologies, Inc., c1996) [720.1 S964]
Lays out clear guidelines and practices for the construction industry. While the decision processes and suggested practices apply to buildings of all sizes, the material is focused on larger commercial and institutional projects.

Sustainable Landscape Construction: A Guide to Green Building Outdoors by J. William Thompson, Kim Sorvig, and Craig D. Farnsworth (Washington, DC : Island Press, 2000. ISBN: 1-55963-646-7)
Rethinks the assumption that all built landscapes are environmentally sound, and offers practical and professional advice for sustainable landscape construction, design, and maintenance. Describes concepts and resources, and presents and illustrates over 100 projects from around the world.

Your Naturally Healthy Home: Stylish, Safe, Simple by Alan Berman (Emmaus, PA : Rodale Press, 2001, ISBN: 0-87596-931-3)
Whether redecorating a room or building an addition, today's homeowners face many options: paints, heating & cooling methods, lighting, building materials, & more. This guide helps readers make stylish choices that are safe for the environment & the home's inhabitants.

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Eco Structure (8x per year -- Subscription information: Free to qualified subscribers)
Full color magazine covering all types of green building projects. Web site also includes links to podcasts and a weekly e-mail newsletter.

Now defunct newsletter of the Energy & Environmental Building Association. Back issues are available online in PDF format.

Environmental Building News (monthly, but irregular -- Subscription information:
Articles, reviews, and news stories covering energy-efficient, resource-efficient, and healthy building practices. Links to online features and other information are available at

Environmental Design & Construction (bi-monthly -- Subscription information:
Bi-monthly magazine covering the green building industry.

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This category includes directories of green building products and services. For directories of green building web sites, see the Web Sites section.

Directory of building products and manufacturers. Not restricted to green building materials.

EcoBuild Web Ring
For research and information groups dedicated to improvement of the built environment in balance with the natural environment.

GreenSpec: The Environmental Building News Product Directory
Directory from the publishers of Environmental Building News.

Serves professionals whose work promotes sustainable design and construction. Includes an online library, a product directory, and a bookstore.

Wisconsin Built Directory of Energy Efficient and Sustainable Building Products and Services (Madison, WI : Wisconsin Green Building Alliance, 1998)
Directory of Wisconsin-based suppliers of green building materials.

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Associations & Organizations

To locate other green building organizations, check the Encyclopedia of Associations, available through most libraries.

Energy & Environmental Building Association
Promotes the awareness, education and development of energy efficient, environmentally responsible buildings and communities.

Green Building Alliance
Pittsburgh-based non-profit organization working to integrate green building practices into regional development projects.

Green Building Information Council
Canadian non-profit organization whose mission is to disseminate information about energy and environmental issues in the building sector.

National Association of Home Builders Research Center
Research and development arm of the National Association of Home Builders. Click on Green Building on the navigation bar on the left side of the page for their green building site.

U.S. Green Building Council
The nation's foremost coalition of leaders from across the building industry working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work.

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Environmental Building News Calendar of Events
A calendar of events maintained by Environmental Building News.

Excellence in Building Conference & Exhibition
Conference designed to meet the diverse educational and networking needs of Builders, Architects & Designers, HVAC Contractors, Engineers, Utility representatives and other industry professionals. Sponsored by the Energy & Environmental Building Association.

Green Building Challenge
Green Building Challenge is an international collaborative effort to develop a building environmental assessment tool that exposes and addresses controversial aspects of building performance and from which the participating countries can selectively draw ideas to either incorporate into or modify their own tools.

National Green Building Conference TrackID=&CategoryID=1676
Sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders. Targeted to the mainstream residential building industry.

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Newsgroups & E-mail Lists


Google Groups ( is a web-based source for Usenet newsgroups. It contains the entire archive of Usenet discussion groups dating back to 1995. Newsgroups bring people with common interests together online to hold ongoing discussions, recommend favorite web sites, collaborate on projects, and conduct research.

Within each group, Google lists the date, the subject line of each thread, and the name of the most recent poster. To read messages in a particular thread, click on the link for that thread. To post a new message, click on the "Post a New Message to [Group Name]" link in the upper right corner of the page. Some of the groups that deal with green building and sustainable building are:

To locate individual messages on green building, search the archive from the main page.

E-mail Discussion Lists

E-mail discussion lists (sometimes called listservs) allow users to contribute to named mailing lists that distribute messages to all subscribed members. Below are several mailing lists that deal with green building.

Big Green List
Forum for discussing and promoting green building principles and practices on projects larger than single family homes. To subscribe, visit

Energy Efficient Building List
To subscribe, send a message to In the body (not subject line) of the message, type "subscribe". For list information, see

Green Building List
Forum for discussion all aspects of green building principles and practices. To subscribe, send a message to Leave the subject line blank (or use a " . " if required). In the body of the message, type subscribe greenbuilding your e-mail address. The Green Building List archives are located at For more information, see

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Community Initiatives

These sites spotlight green building efforts by specific communities.

City of Austin Green Building Program
Fact sheets, publications, and other resources for homeowners, renters, and people in the design and construction professions.

Cleveland Green Building Coalition
The Cleveland GBC is an umbrella organization for groups involved in residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial green building. Also is a clearinghouse for information on green building activities in Cleveland and other cities.

Florida Green Building Coalition
Non-profit corporation formed to advance a Florida-wide green building program.

Wisconsin Environmental Initiative Green Built Home
Green Built Home™, a voluntary program of Wisconsin Environmental Initiative, is a green building initiative that reviews and certifies homes that meet sustainable building and energy standards.

Wisconsin Green Building Alliance
Their mission is to facilitate and promote the development and use of ecologically sustainable materials and practices among builders and contractors in Wisconsin. Good links to green building information.

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Web Sites

These sites are portals or provide basic information on green building concepts. Green Building Concepts
Links to information about green building design. Geared toward architects, builders, and planners.

Building Environmental Science and Technology (B.E.S.T)
B.E.S.T. is a green building consulting firm. The site is very heavy on good content for green building.

Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development: Green Buildings
U.S. Department of Energy site with a nice overview of green building.

Civil Engineering Portal --> Architecture --> Sustainable Building
Another portal site, this one by Focus is more on design issues for architects.

Green Design / Sustainable Architecture: Resources
Comprehensive guide to materials held at the University of California-Berkeley's Environmental Design Library.

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Building Technology
Part of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network. Includes information for homeowners, builders & designers, commercial building owners, and researchers. Mostly deals with energy efficiency issues.

Green Building
Developed by the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Research Center, this is a guide to green building for project developers and for the design, construction, and facility operation professionals they hire.

Green Building Maintenance
Site devoted to green practices in building maintenance.

Green Design Network
Sponsored by Global Environmental Operations, a non-profit organization, the Green Design Network includes the Green Building Resource Center, a searchable database of green design and building resources.
Maintained by a couple who built a house using green building principles. Includes book and video recommendations.

Home Improvement Toolbox
Developed by U.S. EPA's Energy Star program, this site offers an array of interactive tools to helps consumers make energy-saving, cost-effective upgrades to their homes, enhancing their homes' value and comfort, while also protecting the environment. -- Green Building
Green building portal sponsored by

Peaks to Prairies Residential Construction Topic Hub
Part of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx) network of resources. Includes information and links for green design, green products, energy efficiency, water use, air quality, and building codes and standards.

Residential Construction and Environment
Developed by the Peaks to Prairies Pollution Prevention Information Center, this guide to residential construction includes links to FAQs, news, an industry guide, and links to several helpful online publications.

Sustainable Architecture, Building, and Culture
Links to green building and sustainable development resources.

YourHomePlanet Environmental Building Design and Green Construction Searchable Web Portal
Another green building portal with a Yahoo-like directory structure. Links to green building news, conferences, and periodicals near the bottom of the page.

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